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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hoku Scientific CEO to step down

BY Greg Wiles
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hoku Scientific Inc. founder Dustin Shindo has announced he will no longer be the high-tech company's president and CEO. The local firm is still trying to secure financing for its polysilicon plant in Idaho.

Hoku Scientific Inc.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Dustin Shindo

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Scott Paul

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Dustin Shindo, who founded Hoku Scientific Inc. and headed it through both exhilarating and then desperately challenging times, will exit his post at the end of next month.

Shindo, citing a desire to spend more time with his family, is turning over the president and chief executive officer post to Scott Paul, Hoku's chief operating officer, while Wei Xia will take on the chairman role.

"This was my pride and joy and my passion for the past decade," Shindo said.

"I'm leaving it in very good hands. Scott Paul is the most talented executive I've ever worked with."

Shindo founded Hoku in 2001 to develop fuel cell technology and has overseen its transition to a company focused on building a $390 million polysilicon plant in Idaho while doing photovoltaic system installations in Hawai'i.

He also was at the helm when Hoku, then one of Hawai'i's most notable high-technology companies, went public in 2005.

More recently, Shindo had presided over a furious effort to nail down financing for the Idaho plant after funding sources dried up because of a global credit crunch. Last year, he was able to negotiate an investment by Tianwei New Energy Co. Ltd., A China-based company that now owns 60 percent of Hoku.

"It's been a challenging time over the last year or two, but it has been for other companies too," said Shindo, who will become a senior adviser to the company. "We've beaten the odds countless times."

Paul said Shindo's decision was his alone and not brought on by events, Tianwei or the board. Tianwei stated it had wanted to retain Shindo as CEO for a longer period of time.

Paul will inherit a company that still needs to find some financing to complete the polysilicon manufacturing facility and has lost money in 12 of the past 13 quarters. Paul, however, said he remains sure about Hoku's ability to succeed.

"I wouldn't have accepted the job if I wasn't fully confident," he said.

While Shindo will work on special projects for Hoku, he also remains chairman of Kai Sensors and Mehana Brewing Co., companies he founded in 2006 and 1995. Hoku also announced it is promoting Jerrod Schreck, vice president of business development, to chief strategy officer.